Investigation: What Organisms Are Found in Pond Water?

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Materials and Methods

Your instructor has collected two pond water samples from areas near your community. Each sample should be labeled with its location. Your task is to collect data on both pond samples using the equipment provided and record data.

1. Initial Observations

From the outside of the jar, describe the condition of the water, and any organisms you can see. Check to see if the water has an odor. Record this initial qualitative data on your pond samples.

2. Testing the Waters

Use available equipment to gather quantitative data about the sample, such as temperature, pH, and presence of nitrates. Water test kits may be available.

3. Identifying Organisms

Using magnifying glasses, stereoscopes and microscopes, identify as many organisms as you can in the two samples you are studying. This includes both plants, animals, and microorganisms.

A Pond Identification Guide and the Macroinvertebrate Field Guide can help to identify organisms living in the water.

Make sketches of organisms you see to include in your final report. You can even take photos. Include organisms you cannot identify.

4. Organize Data

Create a chart to organize the data you have taken on the two samples, your chart may look something like the one shown below, though you may need to add fields for additional information.

  Sample 1 Sample 2
Initial Observations    
Organisms (Include sketch and IDs)    

5. Construct a Lab Report or Infographic

Scientists usually keep notebooks where they gather data and make observations. These notebooks are often messy and difficult to read. Lab notebooks are not what scientists publish. In the end, they must organize their data and summarize their findings in a form that can be published in science journals.

**Your task is to organize your data, observations, and sketches into a format that can be published and viewed by your instructor and classmates. The lab report is the traditional method, but many universities now accept graphical forms of publications (like an infographic.) Your lab report or infographic must also include answers to the four questions at the beginning of this lab. You may need to reference other sources.**

Grading Rubric

  1 pt 2 pts 3 pts 4 pts
Initial Observations of Samples Very few observations included, not organized or easy to read Some initial observations are included, somewhat organized Both samples represented, describes water and plants, organized Both samples are represented, rich language used to describe water and plants, well organized
Testing (Quantitative data) Quantitative measures not included or poorly organized Data includes some measures, organized Data includes some quantitative measures, organized Data includes many quantitative measures, such as temperature, pH, well organized
Organisms (Include sketch and IDs) Very few organisms are included, no identifications or details Some organisms are included and identified accurately Many organisms are included, details and/or sketches are present, some are identified accurately Many organisms are included, details and/or sketches are present, many are identified accurately
Summary Essential questions are not answered accurately and no sumary was attempted Essential questions are not answered accurately, but a summary of the lab is included Essential questions are answered, observations from lab are included as evidence for statements, some background research evident Essential questions are answered accurately, observations from lab are included as evidence for statements, background research evident
Overall Graphic is not well organized, many errors in grammar, hard to follow Graphic or report is organized has some spelling or grammar errors Graphic or report is organized minimal spelling or grammar errors Graphic or report is well organized, easy to read, minimal spelling or grammar errors

Other Resources on Ecology

Build an Ecosystem - use bags, water BTB, oxygen data

Investigating Algae Blooms - analyze and color a map showing regions of algae blooms, determine causes

Succession in an Ecosystem - graphic shows how species are replaced as a pond dries up.

Stereomicroscope - for examining large specimens